One of the things that has struck me as I have tried to share my faith in Christ with those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior is that there is virtually a complete ignorance of the wrath of God and a cluelessness about the certainly of final judgment. Faith in Jesus is a faith that saves, yet most people who I talk to have no concept of what it is that the believer in Christ is saved from. I think at least part of the responsibility for this problem must fall on the Christian church and its modern reluctance to talk at all about the wrath of God and about the reality of hell. We are reluctant to scare people into heaven and so we never warn people about the realities of an eternal place of punishment called hell. But the Bible is not afraid to tell people that the LORD is angry at sin and that He will certainly punish all sin. The LORD warns people that they must repent and turn from their evil ways or they will experience the terrifying wrath of the Almighty. Should we not do the same? Shouldn’t at least some of our proclamation involve telling people about their peril before a holy God?
Among my future writing projects is a book that would focus on the Bible passages which tell of hell and warn of the coming judgment. Since that project will be a long time in coming, I wanted to share just a few thoughts that occurred to me about this topic.
First, all sin must be punished. This is because of God’s settled wrath at all sin and disobedience. God is holy, and God cannot, will not, allow any sin to go unpunished. All sin must be punished, and there are two ways that sin can be punished. My sins will either be punished once for all by Christ’s atoning, vicarious death on the cross on my behalf or my sins will be punished forever by me personally in the lake of fire.
Second, Christ’s death on the cross fully propitiates the wrath of God against any and every sin of every believer, but the unbeliever’s endless punishment in the lake of fire will never propitiate even one single sin. This is because the death of the sinless Son of God has unlimited atoning power, but the death of the sinner has no atoning or cleansing power.
Thirdly, there is confusion as to the purpose of the lake of fire, also known as hell. Because of poor biblical preaching in America’s pulpits, few people in the general population know of the reality of the lake of fire and therefore most believe that any warning to everyday people that they are going to hell is met with derision and ridicule. In a sense, those in the burning building are laughing at the fire alarm. But it must be realized that, contrary to popular perception, the purpose of the horrors of the lake of fire is not restitution or reconciliation or atonement. The purpose of hell is to inflict God’s full wrath on sinners as a punishment for sin. The warnings are severe because the LORD wants “all to be saved and come to repentance.”
SDG rmb May 16, 2018